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Chemotherapy is a standard medication for treating cancer. Chemotherapy works to slow or stop cancer cells from rapidly growing and multiplying. The goal of chemotherapy will depend on the type and stage of cancer. Chemotherapy may cure some cancers, especially in the early stages, and can help control symptoms of cancers that can’t be cured.

At Dignity Health, our team is dedicated to the treatment of all forms of cancer with expertise and state-of-the-art technologies.

Chemotherapy Side Effects

Chemotherapy slows or stops the rapid growth of cancer cells. However, it can have the same effect on certain normal cells that multiply quickly, for example, those found in hair follicles and the lining of the mouth, nose, and digestive tract. The damage to these normal cells is what leads to some of the side effects of chemotherapy, like hair loss. 

The most common side effects of chemotherapy may include: 

  • fatigue
  • effects on skin and nails
  • anemia
  • blood clotting problems
  • diarrhea and constipation
  • nerve and muscle problems
  • hair loss
  • fluid retention
  • flu-like symptoms
  • pain
  • infection
  • nausea and vomiting
  • mouth, gum, and throat problems
  • kidney and bladder effects

Consult with a trusted oncologist at Dignity Health to learn more about the potential side effects of chemotherapy.

Why Chemotherapy is Performed

Oncologists recommend chemotherapy as a treatment for many types of cancer. At Dignity Health, your doctor may suggest chemotherapy for the following reasons:

  • as a combined treatment with surgery or radiation therapy to improve their potency (concomitant chemotherapy)
  • as a treatment for cancer that has returned (recurrent) or spread (metastatic)
  • to kill cancer cells that may be left after radiation therapy or surgery (adjuvant chemotherapy)
  • to help shrink tumors before radiation therapy or surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy)
  • to relieve symptoms such as pain or bleeding from cancer cells or tumors

What to Expect from Chemotherapy at Dignity Health

Depending on the type and stage of your cancer, you may receive either regional chemotherapy (which only affects a certain area of your body) or systemic chemotherapy (which affects your entire body).

Your chemotherapy will be given at a Dignity Health hospital or outpatient clinic. Some regimens may require you to stay overnight in a hospital setting. Other forms of chemo may be taken or applied at home, including tablets and lotions.

If your chemotherapy is performed in an outpatient setting, you will be able to go home after your treatment. Count on our team to help prepare you and care for your well-being as you undergo chemotherapy. 

Learn More

For more information, please view our Gynecologic Oncology Surgery page, or call us to Find a Doctor.